I TEACH people how to grow their money.
Most of them aren’t looking to become multi millionaires — they want to use their money to improve their daily lives, not have a huge house on Sydney Harbour.
Amy (not her real name) stood out to me recently. She was facing a battle many other Australians face on a daily basis: she was just making ends meet, but not getting ahead.
She was sick of battling a commute to her mediocre corporate gig.
The stressful marketing job paid 5,000 a year.
She wanted to change her life and dreamt of running her own boutique branding agency and spending more time on her own health.
Amy and her husband Owen had credit card debts, a mortgage and little in savings.
Pay days were a bit of a juggle between different bills — the couple were getting by but never getting ahead.
So I offered Amy an alternative.
What would her realistic best day be?
By realistic, I mean what would a normal workday look like in her dream life?
I asked her to write down this day, and keep it. She would need it to shape her long term goals.
AMY’S PERFECT WORK DAY
I wake up early feeling rested and looking forward to the day ahead.
After a coffee I head off for a run on the beach, I love starting the day like this. Back home I prepare a healthy breakfast, no more rushing out the door because I’m late for work. We all eat breakfast together as a family before I drop the kids off at school.
Walking into my light-filled, sunny home office, I flick my computer on and get to work. My business is bringing in more income than I ever earned in a salaried position.
We’ve been able to build an emergency fund, start an investment account, make additional payments to the mortgage and pay off both credit cards.
Owen works part-time now in a job he loves. We eat lunch together at home and take time out for an afternoon coffee at a cafe on the water.
We’re planning a surprise trip for my parents to Fiji, to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. It feels so good to be able to afford to treat them to an amazing holiday. We pick the kids up from school on our way back and I get back to work for a few more hours.
Before dinner, I head to my favourite gym class. I feel so much more energised and healthy these days. I have time to actually get to the gym!
Dinner is healthy and relaxed with the family. Afterwards, the kids hang out and do their own thing around the place. Owen and I wind down the day with a glass of red. Cheers to a perfect day!
The perfect day Amy wrote for herself might not be anyone else’s idea of perfect. But the point is, she had a clear vision of what she wanted.
Other people I’ve worked with have had very different ideas of what it means to be financially free and not have to stress over money.
Some of the common goals I’ve heard are:
• Taking a trip overseas each year without paying for it on credit cards
• Being free of all personal debt — credit cards, car loans, personal loans
• Having your own business doing what you love that easily pays all the bills
• Being able to afford to take a pay cut for a job you truly love
• Freedom to respond to the financial needs of others with amazing generosity
• Retiring in your 40s with a million in savings (yep, feel free to dream big!)
• Travelling the world as a digital nomad
• Paying off your mortgage
• Having a well-stocked emergency fund, investments and savings account
• The ability to meet all bills and living expenses completely stress-free
• Paying cash for everything and never needing to rely on credit cards
The path to financial freedom isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme and except for those Powerball winners, it’s not something that just happens.
Building a life of financial independence takes time, hard work and sacrifice. Maybe that doesn’t sound so fun in the short term, but I promise you the effort is worth it in the long run.
Having a clear idea of what financial freedom means to you and describing your perfect work day will help define your financial goals and stay focused for the long game.
COMBINING GOALS AND STRATEGIES
Writing down your perfect work day will help you decipher what’s really important to you and help to actualise, plan and start working on the goals you need to become financially free.
Go back to Amy’s day. She’s had a number of goals there that were quite realistic:
• More time with family
• Having control over her income, not limited to earning within a corporate salary
• Running her own business doing what she loves while providing for her family
• Flexible, self-directed schedule
• Her finances were organised and geared towards wealth generation
• She wanted to treat friends and family
• To live near the beach to enjoy a health-focused lifestyle
To reach the goal of becoming financially independent, you need to commit fully to a plan that is going to get you there.
It’s so easy to commit to a big goal in the beginning. We’re motivated, excited and so absolutely sure that we can make it!
But motivation is a fickle friend. One minute she’s there, cheering you on. The next minute she’s gone and it’s just you and one heck of a mountain to climb.
This is exactly why it’s so important to define your perfect day of financial freedom, with such clarity and emotion that you can truly see and feel it in your mind.
It’s not a vague idea with no definition. It’s a detailed list of what you want and most importantly, how achieving it will make you feel.
Develop realistic steps to achieve each goal. If you want to run your own business, what are the steps you need to do that?
Maybe you want to work part time? How can you afford that? What things in your life right now can be changed to allow that? What will you give up to save money?
DON’T GET SIDETRACKED
Keep your perfect day front of mind. When you start to feel a bit more financially comfortable, it’s easy to get sidetracked from your main goal.
Are you spending more than you want to? Are you saving less? Check in with your finances regularly — you need to know you’re still working towards your long term goal.
The best way to stay focused on your goal of financial freedom is to read your perfect day on a weekly basis. It will lift you up if you’re feeling discouraged or inspire you even more if you’re already on your way!